Seabreeze Elementary School
For 19 years, Mrs. Darellee Naccarato has taught in four Duval County Public Schools. She is currently at Seabreeze Elementary where she was named Teacher of the Year two years ago. Mrs. Naccarato states without hesitation that teaching music and drama is her dream job and shares that the only way to make it better would be to increase the music and theatre programs in her school and throughout the county.
Mrs. Naccarato acknowledges three teachers for guiding her path:
Dr. Margaret Ratz who taught her to read despite a learning disability; Mrs. Sally McKee her third grade teacher who inspired her to become a teacher; and Mr. Bob Pickell, her choral director from sixth to 12th grade. Today, her students are her inspiration.
Mrs. Naccarato teaches to instill confidence, inclusion and collaboration through performance. She recognizes that music and drama enrich the lives of both students and their families. The desire to instill confidence is found in the words of a Seabreeze parent referring to her second grade son, “Mrs. Naccarato gave him a … speaking part in the class musical… She felt like he could do it even though I wasn’t sure. I cried tears of joy as I listened to that sweet, small voice speak to a crowd of parents.
Mrs. Naccarato never doubted him for a second.”
Mary Beth Jones
San Jose Catholic School
Mrs. Mary Beth Jones has taught the entirety of her 37-year career at San Jose Catholic School. During nearly all that time, Mrs. Jones taught fifth grade, moving to third grade just three years ago. She has taught not one, not two, but three generations of students.
Mrs. Jones identifies her first principal, Sr. Eithne, as her inspiration. She recognized the trust placed in her by Sr. Eithne and was committed to not letting her down. Mrs. Jones credits her first teaching partner, Margaret DiChiara, as the model for all the years of teaching that were to come.
Mrs. Jones feels that every day is a new day for teachers and she knows that allowing teachers to find and practice their own style allows them to reach more students. Her assistant principal writes, “Countless graduates return each year, comment with other teachers about their favorite moments and stop by her classroom for a quick hug or conversation.
They do this because of the way Mrs. Jones has prepared them for all their future endeavors. She is colorful, engaging and has a natural ability to relate to all types of students. There can be only one Mary Beth Jones, and for that our school is eternally blessed!”
Virginia Barnett Dickert
Jacksonville Country Day School
Over a remarkable 36-year period, Mrs. Virginia Dickert’s contributions to children and music have left an indelible mark on Jacksonville.
She has worked with students in Duval County schools, Mandarin Baptist Church, the Jacksonville Children’s Chorus and 23 years at Jacksonville Country Day School. Mrs. Dickert long ago recognized that students want and need an opportunity to shine and recognized the power of performance in a child’s life. She credits her mother, her teacher Ruth Dobrin, and opportunities at Hendricks Avenue Elementary and Wolfson High School for planting the seeds to become a music educator.
Mrs. Dickert was a Teacher of the Year, was awarded for her work “Drumline Buddies” by the Florida Music Educators Association, and plays a leading role in the North Florida Orff Chapter. In 2014, the song “Orange Blossom Special” (Arr. Robert Moore) was commissioned in her honor by the Jacksonville Children’s Chorus. Colleague Chrystal Staples writes, “I have no doubt if you asked any teacher or administrator in our school, district or state organizations … there would scarcely be a
person who has not heard of her or who has not been positively impacted by her professionalism, musical knowledge and giving spirit!”
Joan M. Bacon
LaVilla School of the Arts
After an astonishing 43 years in classrooms on two coasts and across four states, Mrs. Joan Bacon confesses that she was an average student and had no early aspirations to become a teacher, let alone pursue a lifelong career in teaching. All that changed when she first entered the classroom. Mrs. Bacon writes, “Once I began to teach, the experience was overwhelming!” Her teaching leaves her with no doubt that all children want to learn. According to Mrs. Bacon, in order for that to happen, children need to feel welcome and safe; they need to experience mutual respect and trust; they need the tools to be successful; and they need clear and high expectations.
Mrs. Bacon has been previously recognized as a three-time Teacher of the Year (each time in a different school), named a finalist as an Outstanding Young Educator and, in 1999, was invited to open LaVilla School of the Arts. She speaks of the vulnerable nature of adolescents and of their need for recognition, encouragement and acceptance.
Mrs. Bacon speaks of the adolescent’s critical stage of personal development and her commitment to becoming a trusted adult. To that end, former student Mandy Eastwood remembers, “I could always lean on her for help, or if I just needed someone to talk to.”